We had breakfast earlier today as we had a date with Ho Chi Minh The Vietnamese love Uncle Ho so much that when he died his body was preserved and is kept in a huge mausoleum in Hanoi for people to see, well apart from between the months of September to December when he goes on holiday to Russia to be maintained. You can only visit Uncle Ho in the morning so we took a taxi and joined the huge queue. It was a bizarre experience; the whole place is heavily guarded with 'gay boy' army men, you can probably guess who provided this charming nickname. I was a bit disappointed that Ho didn't sit up and wave as we filed past-surely they could have created something with animatronics! The 'gay boy' men looked bored most of the time but I managed to get told off for having my hands in my pocket and James got told to remove his cap. This was an embarrassing moment as James thought the guy was saluting him, James returned the salute before realising it was actual a mime for him to take his cap off!
We walked around the Presidential palace grounds and saw where Ho lived and worked, along with everyone else, you can always tell which sites are free! We took a quick snap of the one pillar pagoda and traipsed over to the Temple of Literature. As the tour guide I thought I had discovered the quickest route to the entrance. We wandered past every surrounding wall and there was no sign of an entrance. At one point there was a group of guards hanging about so we presumed this must be it. We got ushered away and thought it must be closed for the day as there were some Graduates taking photos in the gardens. We started to wander off and as luck would have it they opened the doors and we filed in. It turned out they were filming and there was a sign, written in English to explain this but they stupidly placed it where you couldn't see, well until they let everyone in! The Temple of Literature/Fort Knox is very beautiful and there is a lot to see. I would say it was definitely worth the five minute walk around the grounds to get it!
A lunch stop was needed, we were all in need of a re-boost and so it was fortunate when we came across KOTO restaurant. It is run by disadvantaged young people and the food was delicious, well presented and had a great selection. It was quite a long back to the hotel and S&R had laughed when we told them we couldn't find the cathedral so I was determined to find it today. I found the one road we hadn't been down yesterday and sure enough, situated in a small square was the giant St Joseph's cathedral. We had a look inside and then had another religious experience at a Buddhist temple. We were walking past when we heard a lot of chanting. We stood in the door way for a few seconds before we got ushered in and sat down. Gail and I picked up the mantra but didn't join in as such. James and I were the lameos again and went back to the hotel while G&C hit the old haunt for a few. We had tried out best to tire them out but did not succeed.
The Gourmet was booked for six tonight so we made our way across the city and up to the 18th floor to look out across Hanoi's night sky. S&R eventually found their way and blamed me (I can't think why) for getting lost. The food was amazing and some OK company, I suppose! Chris was not a fan of another group of people at the restaurant; I think they were rather brash and rude to the staff. When we had finished the lift was busy, with these people in so we decided to take the stairs. When we got to the bottom we were all out of breath and chatting as we walked back to our hotel. The group of brash people walked past and one of the women said 'that was really funny' in a sarcastic tone. Sonka, Robin, James and I had no idea what she was on about. It turned out Chris had a bit of pay back and called the elevator at every floor-haha, it must have taken them ages!